July 31, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State volleyball's 2012 four-member incoming class was named by PrepVolleyball.com as the 21st best recruiting class in the country. The Sun Devils have the seventh-ranked class in the Pac-12 Conference.
"With the accelerated nature of the recruiting process, it feels like we have waited forever for this class to arrive on campus," said head coach Jason Watson. "When we started recruiting the 2012 class, we knew it had the potential to be one of the better recruiting classes in the country."
The PrepVolleyball.com rankings do not take into effect any transfers or international athletes.
"As time went by and we saw each of these athletes improve and develop, it became apparent that they would be better than we imagined," Watson continued. "There is significant excitement surrounding this class. Coupled with the work of our returning student-athletes, there is a great blend of talent, personality and commitment within our roster heading into the 2012 season."
MEET THE NEWCOMERS
Watson on Binns
"Mercedes joined our program in January of 2012. Originally, she was to join us in the Fall. Prior to starting at ASU, she had to do a tremendous amount of work - it was not easy and it was not fun. But she got it done and in a number of ways, is much better for enduring the process. She made the most of this past Spring semester. She is stronger. She understands the demands of the game at a much higher level. She is a student. There is much for her to learn but she has made a commitment to learn and we are doing all we can to give her the resources to be successful at Arizona State. It is going to be fun to see her grab hold of this opportunity and reach her potential."
Mercedes Binns is a 6-2 middle blocker from South Pasadena, Calif., where she was a member of the South Pasadena volleyball and women's basketball teams. Binns was ranked fifth in the PrepVolleyball.com Top 50 Juniors just one year ago. As a member of Club West Volleyball, based out of Rancho Cucamonga, Binns is one of 14 graduates of the 2011 class to sign to play at the collegiate level.
Watson on Follette
"In comparison to Mercedes, Allison and Macey, our recruitment of Whitney moved quickly. We received film on Whitney late in the recruiting process, but really liked a number of aspects of her game. She was playing middle and playing all six rotations. This is something that does not happen much in junior volleyball here in the U.S. She is well versed in a number of aspects of the game because she is yet to specialize. It is something that we would like to continue to explore, given that we are not sure where she will play once she arrives on campus. I do know she is eager to get to work. She is excited to be a Sun Devil and has developed a strong bond with her fellow 2012 recruits and teammates."
Whitney Follette is a 6-2 outside hitter from Edmonton, Canada. PrepVolleyball.com does not include international athletes in their polls but added that she "adds size, a huge block jump and the ability to hit a heavy ball." Follette recently helped her club 18U team to a gold-medal finish at Provincials and was named an All-Star.
Watson on Gardner
"Macey is goal orientated and mindful in her approach to the game. She was determined to win a state championship for Gilbert High School her senior year. In dramatic fashion, Macey led her high school team to a remarkable comeback victory to claim a state championship. These are qualities that set her apart and will blend well with our current group of athletes. She is eager for a challenge, not afraid to learn and accepting of the commitment needed to become a successful student-athlete."
Macey Gardner is a 6-0 outside hitter and a local native of Gilbert, Ariz., who was ranked individually by the website as 20th in the nation. A high school All-America selection from Gilbert High School, PrepVolleyball.com, describes her as a "complete volleyball player who can pass, play defense and block, skills that tend to be overshadowed by her lethal arm swing," which won her the "Hardest Hitter" competition at the Under Armour All-America match in December.
Watson on Palmer
"It is just fun watching Allison play volleyball. She has a genuine love of the game. I don't know where it comes from, but it is almost infectious. It is hard being a setter. The demands of the position set it apart. Setters, more than any other position, need to `do and say the things that make their teammates better.' Allison has that ability. She is competitive - she is relationship based in her play and demeanor. It is going to be fun to watch her thrive and develop in one of the country's most competitive conferences."
Allison Palmer, a 5-9 setter from Laguna, Calif., brings USA Volleyball Youth National Team experience as a member of the team that finished ninth in the 2011 World Youth Championships in Anakara, Turkey. Listed as a Top-50 recruit by PrepVolleyball.com, she led the Laguna Beach High School to two Orange Coast League Championships (09, 10) while earning First Team All-League accolades along the way.
FIRST GLIMPSE OF ASU VOLLEYBALL
ASU kicks off the 2012 season with its annual Alumni Match on August 18 at 1 p.m. PT, followed by a free skill clinic open to the public at 2 p.m. The Sun Devils began play at the UTEP El Paso Sports commission Invitational starting on August 24 in El Paso, Texas.
MEET THE RETURNERS
The Sun Devil newcomers join 13 returners of the program from last year's squad, which includes eight starters, one redshirt freshman, five sophomores, five juniors and two seniors.
Watson on Jordy Checkal | Libero/Setter | RS Fr. | 5-7
"Jordy elected to redshirt her first year at Arizona State. I believe that year has been beneficial in her development. There was a need for her to refine her mechanics and develop an eye for the speed of the game. There is much to process at this level and it's a tough transition. Yet, at the end of the Spring, Jordy was becoming increasingly comfortable in playing the game and not afraid to work hard and compete, it will be fun watching her further develop this coming season. I know Jordy is going to embrace the resources available to her to excel."
Watson on Katie Fontes | Libero | So. | 5-4
"We have a great group of athletes in competition for the libero position. It is a daily battle. There is a lot of stress on them. Katie works to ensure that the mean level of play within that group continues to elevate. We have asked her to make some dramatic changes in her mechanics. The learning curve has been tough, but she continues to come to the gym willing and eager to make changes. This past Spring semester, Katie made some major advances in changing her mechanics and understanding the game. It was fun to celebrate those successes with her."
Watson on Julia Katolik | Middle Blocker | So. | 6-4
"This past year, Julia has been hampered with injuries. It has been frustrating - she has wanted so badly to contribute daily in practice. This summer, she made to decision to spend the entire break here at ASU preparing for the season. She knows what needs to happen in order for her to be in a position to contribute. There will be opportunities for her if she is ready and has put in the time. She knows this and is working to ensure there are no regrets. I am excited for her and the potential she has to contribute to this team."
Watson on Shannan McCready | Setter | So. | 5-7
"I have come to greatly appreciate the personality and role Shannan plays on our team. She handled a difficult transition last season with grace. Every day was a learning opportunity and every day she demonstrated a great attitude and a desire to help her team. We have asked her to `hone her craft' this past Spring in preparation for the Fall. She is taking ownership of her daily performance and has made a commitment to the little details only setters can appreciate. There is work to be done. Something that Shannan appreciates and is willing to embrace."
Watson on Kylee Terhune | Outside Hitter | So. | 6-1
"Kylee took advantage of some key opportunities in the Fall semester. These moments came about due to her continually looking to upgrade her level of play. She is not where she wants to be, she wants more. She is going to work hard, identifying areas she needs to upgrade and then use time in the gym and film to improve. It is a mindful approach to daily improvement. Competitive in nature, it is going to be fun watching her push herself and her team towards realizing our potential."
Watson on Nora Tuioti-Mariner | Outside Hitter | So. | 6-1
"We saw parts of the potential of Nora this past season. What is exciting, is she now understands the depth and breadth of the individual commitment needed to play and excel in the PAC-12 Conference. Everything you do, or don't do, has an impact on your performance in this conference. It requires you to be `all in,' and Nora is ready. She had a wonderful Spring. She has worked harder than ever in order to help this program. Her versatility gives us a number of options heading into the 2012 season. This promises to be a season where Nora's true strength and leadership is exhibited daily."
Watson on Caitlyn Francis | Libero | Jr. | 5-10
"As the Spring season developed, it became clear that Caitlyn is a major factor in our libero competition. Credit for her improvement belongs to her - the work she has done outside of practice, the additional repetitions and her mindful approach to practice. Not only has Caitlyn worked to improve her game, she has demonstrated a maturity that is team-centered. She is a great teammate. I know this trait will be important to us as we look to realize our potential this coming season."
Watson on Bethany Jorgensen | Outside Hitter | Jr. | 5-11
"Bethany continues to excel as a student-athlete and teammate. She has a commitment like none else. Always willing to do whatever is asked, she works tirelessly to upgrade her game and the play of those on the team. Every day and on every play, Bethany is giving all she has to help this program build a foundation of which will enable future success. A true Sun Devil, it's hard not to want her to be successful."
Watson on Alexis Pinson | Middle Blocker | Jr. | 6-2
"Alexis returns as our most experienced middle. She really embraced her role this past Spring and elevated her already high commitment to daily improvement. It was an impressive performance and one that will help her in her efforts to better this program. As Alexis continues to pursue the resources available to her to succeed, she will continue to grow and understand the demands of playing middle in a competitive program within a great conference."
Watson on Stephanie Preach | Libero | Jr. | 5-8
"I continue to marvel at the commitment Stephanie shows to developing into one of the better libero's within the conference. It's not easy doing what she does; but she has successfully balance the demands of being a student-athlete with a deep commitment to personal improvement. It would be easier if we just gave her a key to Wells Fargo Arena. The more comfortable she becomes as a libero, the more we see her innate leadership qualities surface. The 2012 season is sure to be a tipping point for Stephanie - one that will greatly benefit our program."
Watson on Jenny Teslevich | Libero | Jr. | 5-9
"Jenny continues to work to raise the level of play in our gym in an effort to realize our potential in 2012. The daily battle between each of our libero candidates has elevated the competitive nature of our practices. Jenny is leading the charge. While attending to the demands of being an Honors Student, she still finds time outside of practice for additional tutoring. Competitive and relentless, she remains balanced in a `team first' approach to competitions."
Watson on Sarah Clause | Outside Hitter | Sr. | 6-0
"I've come to appreciate Sarah's outlook on many aspects of our program. I truly believe she understands what we are trying to do here at ASU. She knows it's not easy. She knows it's going to require a lot of hard work. It is something that's extremely comfortable for Sarah. The work she has needed to do over the summer should demonstrate to all her commitment level. I look for Sarah to take a position of leadership within our program in an effort to cultivate strong interpersonal relationships."
Watson on Erica Wilson | Middle Blocker | Sr. | 6-0
"All IN! - That's the simplest description I can offer of Erica. In everything we have asked her to do, she has always been `All In.' I don't think anyone will truly understand the depth and breadth of her commitment to ASU, this program and her own personal journey. I need to be a better coach to be on the same level as Erica. It is wonderfully motivating. As she begins her final season, there is a deep feeling associated with getting this season done right. Each of us wants nothing more than to provide her with the most fitting of senior seasons."